This week the U.S. Supreme Court settled on a single interpretation of the False Claim Act (FCA) statute of limitations that gives many whistleblowers more time to bring FCA cases against healthcare entities and others.
Prior to the Courts’ decision, the circuit courts had interpreted the FCA’s statute of limitations differently, primarily because the Act itself provides two different timings for FCA claim filings, together with a “hard” 10-year limit for all claims. It was the interpretation of these two timings and their interaction that led to splits across the circuit courts.
The FCA provides that suits be brought either six years from when the fraud occurred or three years from when an “official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances” knows or should have known of relevant material facts related to the claim. Some circuit courts interpreted the “government knowledge” portion to mean that the three-year limit applied only when the government decided to intervene in a case. The Eleventh Circuit, in an interpretation now confirmed by the Supreme Court, determined that the text of the statute directs that the “government knowledge” statute of limitations applies in an FCA qui tam suit whether or not the government decides to intervene.
Simply put, FCA claimants now have an additional three years to sue after a responsible federal official “knows or should have known” the relevant facts, regardless of whether or not the government decides to intervene, but no more than 10-years after the alleged violation.
This decision is good news for FCA whistleblowers but results in, potentially, several more years of legal exposure for those on the receiving side of such claims. The decision also opens the door to suits that may have otherwise already expired under prior interpretations of the statute of limitations.
Should you have any questions regarding the Court’s decision on the FCA statute of limitations and how it may impact you or your business, please contact any member of the FisherBroyles Pharmacy and Health Care Law team listed below.
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